Western Quebec municipalities, activists aim to curb mining operations

CBC News

Gathering in Montebello, Que., designed to put province on notice 

Originally published on CBC News · 

A number of Outaouais politicians, environmental activists and tourism operators are mobilizing against what they consider an explosion in mining exploration in the area.

They gathered Wednesday at the Chateau Montebello in Montebello, Que., to voice concerns over the impact mining operations could have on tourism and the environment.

They also want the Quebec government to give municipalities the ability to dictate how close mineral exploration and mining can encroach on their boundaries. 

There's currently little that members of the public or elected officials can do to stop an exploration company from operating close to cottages, businesses and homes, said Ugo Lapointe, Canadian campaign co-ordinator for Mining Watch Canada.

Once mining for products like lithium and graphite — crucial for batteries and electric cars — gets underway, it can get messy and noisy, Lapointe told CBC Radio's All in a Day

All in a Day

Mining is experiencing a little boom in the Outaouais


A group of Outaouais municipalities and environmental groups are ringing alarm bells over mining activity they say is encroaching on tourism in the area 9:48

The work can also be hazardous to groundwater, he added, if chemicals aren't contained properly.

"For most of these projects it will mean open-pit mining. Open-pit mining requires heavy machinery, heavy equipment blasting, which can be daily blasting or weekly blasting," said Lapointe.

"So noise, dust, traffic are some of the impacts that are most felt immediately surrounding the operations."

MiningWatch Canada's Ugo Lapointe says the Quebec government needs to grant municipalities in the Outaouais control over how close mineral exploration can occur to their boundaries. (Mining Watch Canada)

List of requests

The municipality of Papineau, Que., the Lakes of the Petite-Nation protection group and the Conseil régional de l'environnement et du développement durable de l'Outaouais are all calling on Quebec's ministry of energy and resources to take a number of steps, including:

  • Reconciling tourism activities with economic priorities.
  • Respecting local communities and their land uses, as well as principles like conservation, biodiversity and ecosystem preservation.
  • Ensuring public consultations take place to balance mining operations with environmental, social and economic issues.

Municipal representatives at Wednesday's news conference also worried increased demand for "critical and strategic" minerals — which are abundant in the Ottawa River watershed — will trump tourism and other economic drivers.

According to Lapointe, the province is expected to table its updated policy on key minerals in the next few weeks.

With files from CBC Radio's All in a Day